*Did you know… that this state has the most volcanoes of anywhere in the country?*
Mozart, also called Mo, is one of the main characters in the Adventures of Mo, our free online children’s book for early readers. Mo is an American Eskimo dog that lives in Alaska. What comes to mind when you think of Alaska? Polar bears? Snow? Enormous icebergs or glaciers?
Besides its stunning beauty, this 49th state has a very interesting past:
- From the late 1700s until 1867, a country called Russia controlled most of the area that’s now known as Alaska. Can you find this country on a world map? Hint: It’s in Eastern Europe.
- In 1867, The United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, or roughly two cents an acre. Considering how rich Alaska is in natural resources like coal, oil, lumber, and natural gas, how much do you think Alaska would cost today?
- In 1896, people discovered gold in Alaska. For the next several years, approximately 100,000 people traveled to Alaska to search for gold in hopes of getting rich. That’s more than the amount of people who now live in San Francisco. Do you know what state San Francisco is in?
- Another country–Canada–borders Alaska on its east side. In the 1800s, before anyone could cross the Canadian border into Alaska to search for gold, the Canadian government required each prospector to have a year’s worth of gold mining equipment and supplies including 1,000 pounds of food and mosquito netting.
- Toward the end of the gold rush, only several thousand gold hunters actually found gold. The majority left empty-handed.
Still, some stayed behind while many others came to work and live here…
- In the 1920s–long before you were born– roughly 55,000 gold hunters lived in Alaska and started businesses like pulp mills
- Others began drilling for oil, and the territory started to thrive
- Voters adopted the Alaskan constitution
- The state’s first TV broadcast took place in Anchorage, which is now the biggest city in Alaska
Alaskans can take pride in passing an anti-discrimination act in 1945, the first place to pass such legislation anywhere in the US. The law made it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on race.
In 1959, Alaska became a state. None of the estimated 224,000 seemed to mind that the temperature often dipped below zero during winter; that on the shortest day of the year known as the Winter Solstice, there’s less than nine hours of daylight, or that the sun typically sets around 11pm in July. Alaska is the only place in the country where this happens.
Just five years later in 1964, Alaska set another record. An earthquake rattled and shook the Prince William Sound region of the state! Nicknamed the Good Friday Earthquake, its magnitude measured 9.2, the largest earthquake ever recorded in US history. More than 100 people died. Several years later, thousands of people were forced out of their homes due to a gigantic flood in a city called Fairbanks.
The state is also famous for its dog sled race called, the Iditarod. Its formal name is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which is an annual long-distance sled dog race that happens every March. But what inspired the race is just as impressive as the race itself. It actually commemorates the part that sled dogs played in the settlement of Alaska.
Back in 1925, children who lived in a city called Nome were infected with a disease called diphtheria. Many died. The nearest batch of medicine was in another city called Nenana, which was approximately 700 miles away. Since sled dogs routinely delivered the mail, the territory’s governor recruited the best drivers and dog teams to transport the life-saving medicine from Nenana to Nome in blizzard conditions. The memory of that medicine run lives on in this race.
The state also has some funny laws:
- You can’t wake a sleeping bear to take a selfie.
- No drunken moose allowed in town.
- Children should not build snowmen taller than themselves.
If you live in Alaska, email us about your favorite place in the state or what you like best about living here and we’ll publish it along with your first name, age and state on Mo’s website!